NY1 Theater Review: "Chaplin"
Film legend Charlie Chaplin is the center of the new biographical Broadway musical "Chaplin". NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review
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"Chaplin" is pleasing as musicals go but it lacks that "wow" factor that puts shows on the must-see radar. It’s got a terrific lead performance and a remarkable story to tell: So remarkable in fact, the music seems extraneous. Qualms aside, it succeeds where so many others have failed. "Chaplin" is a thoughtful and touching musical that wins our hearts even as it misses a few beats.
Charlie Chaplin's life is tailor-made for dramatic portrayal. The rags to riches saga peppered with tragedy and of course plenty of comedy is a complete arc from impoverished childhood to superstardom.
Veteran book writer Thomas Meehan and librettist/composer Christopher Curtis crafted the story which emerges uneven. It's alternately riveting, redundant and inexplicably schmaltzy. Director/choreographer Warren Carlyle managed to move the action with artfulness and clarity though it could use some trimming.
A great big tip of the hat to the technical designs rendered almost entirely in shades of black and white evoking silent films, complete with flickering lights and expert use of projections.
Curtis' music features few standout songs but it's pleasant enough and beautifully acted by a fine cast that includes the amazing little Zachary Unger in a Tony worthy debut performance. The women, Christiane Noll as Chaplin's mother, Erin Mackey playing wife Oona O'Neill and Jenn Colella as the villainous Hedda Hopper are quite strong along with Wayne Alan Wilcox as Charlie's brother Syd. But the best reason to see Chaplin is Rob McClure's brilliant channeling of the genius filmmaker. Beyond getting the physicality down to a T, he embodies the artist's soul with a subtle mastery that far exceeds impersonation.
If "Chaplin" falls a little short as a musical it remains a fascinating story, compellingly told for the most part. But for better and worse, I was left wanting more.